Needers & Givers - The Other
Record Label: Loose Tooth Records
Release Date: April 15, 2008
I like the Shins just as much as the next guy, but if given the opportunity, would I like to be them? Probably not. I’m sure it’s very complicated to assume somebody else’s entire persona (we’ve all seen that movie Face/Off). But sometimes, the quickest route to self-expression seems to be, well, being somebody else. Stuck in the mindset that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Needers & Givers do their best to create Chutes Too Narrow, Part 2 with their latest 8-song EP The Other.
Perhaps if the group had emerged with their Shins tribute at another time instead of right while the Shins already rule the indie rock scene, I would have received this disk better. But as it is, it’s kind of annoying; each song sounds like you’ve already heard it before you’ve even finished listening. Even the chord changes that seem like they are supposed to be surprising are pretty predictable.
Still, while this is basically the "Las Vegas Elvis" impersonation of the year record, you can’t miss the catchiness and ear-grabbing progressions of tracks like the opener "Digging," the piano part of which could have been lifted from one of Elliot Smith’s grander sounding songs. Or how about the uber-Pet Sounds vocals of “Out of Here” that move melodically all over the scale, capping prematurely at 1:45 to prompt (at least for this reviewer) the ‘repeat track’ function on iTunes?
And while I’m at it, I ought to point out that if I were only reviewing the song “Holy Rollers,” it’d be probably a 90%, because it’s during this track that the group explore slightly less familiar, definitely darker influences, like the Moody Blues and King Crimson, and the sound really works for them. An entire EP of this kind of song would be infinitely better than the actual tracklist of The Other.
Even if the character of this group is 100% mimicked from huge pop groups throughout the years, there’s no denying the charm in these songs. My hope is that this group of obviously-talented musicians can evolve into their own comfort zone and spin something a little bit more original, because even Radiohead started off kind of shaky before they blew the world away.
If it’s just a catchy classic rock-flavored tune or two that you’re looking for, The Other will not disappoint. Still, I’ve got to say that maybe a better name for this release would be The Other Shins.